Is It Safe To Go Back To The Gym During The Coronavirus Pandemic? | Deep Dives | Health

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- [Narrator] Gyms may start reopening soon,

after weeks of shutdown

due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

But will it be safe to go back?

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During a coronavirus task force news briefing

on April 16th, President Trump revealed

a three-phase plan for opening up America again.

And gyms, along with restaurants,

sporting venues, and places of worship

were on the list of non-essential businesses

given the green light to reopen in phase one.

But whether or not you should sweat in a studio

or a gym remains up for debate.

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One major factor is that there's no set consensus

on when it's safe to reopen.

In states, cities, and even counties

are making their own decisions with or without

the okay from public health and infectious disease experts.

And an open gym doesn't necessarily equal a safe gym.

After all, there's also no set protocol

on what gym owners should do to keep everyone safe.

This is Meredith Poppler, she works for IHRSA.

A not-for-profit representing health

and fitness facilities all over the country.

- We think it's so important that gyms open

in phase one or at the governors discretion,

but early in the process.

We truly believe that health clubs are essential

to the communities' health.

We, as the trade association for the industry,

have provided our gym owners with questions

on both safety and operations.

These are questions like,

how far are you going to have to move equipment

away from each other?

How many pieces of cardio equipment

will you have to unplug to keep six feet away?

What are you going to be doing to ensure

that your staff maintains they're area of the club,

to make sure that whatever is touched

is appropriately cleaned and disinfected?

There's a long list of questions.

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- [Narrator] The good news,

while how closely your gym stays on top of cleaning

is up to the owner and your fellow gym goers,

many gyms do have safety top of mind,

and have been planning for reopening

ever since they closed down.

Take Lifetime, a company with over 150 locations

around the country.

They've created a 53 page reopening plan,

which includes increasing the frequency of cleaning,

offering more disinfectant products to clients,

limiting how many clients can be

inside the building and at classes,

using signs and markers to promote social distancing rules,

spacing out weight machines,

only allowing the use of every other cardio machine

and locker in locker rooms,

and temperature checks and face masks for staff.

Fitness studio company ClassPass,

which has over 30,000 partners in 30 countries,

also says they'll reopen classes on the platform

as soon as gyms say they're ready,

likely with reduced capacity.

Of course, despite well-intentioned efforts,

public health officials still stress

that returning to the gym could still be risky.

- I think decisions about whether to return to the gym,

or whether to return to the fitness center or health clubs,

muck like even returning to work,

all have to be taken on a case by case

or really specific basis.

I think one of the most important things

to think about is really that this virus can live

on all different types of surfaces,

sometimes for long periods of time,

whether that be metal or vinyl.

And so, with this in mind,

it's gonna be important to really sanitize.

I think if we are prepared to accept the risk

that we might be taking by coming into contact

with people who may have this virus

and may not show symptoms,

or we're coming into contact with a lot of high-frequency

surfaces that are often touched.

And if we're not really prepared to really take steps

that of course will change our routines,

then I think we might wanna consider

that maybe now is not the best time for us to come

into contact with those things, or to go to gyms really.

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- [Narrator] Sill considering returning?

Here's what to keep in mind.

First, don't go back if you don't feel confident

in a gym's cleanliness.

And don't be afraid to call ahead

and ask what your gym is doing

to curb the spread of coronavirus.

When you do go in, remember these important pointers.

Wash or sanitize your hands as often as possible.

Don't touch your face.

Wear a face mask.

Keep at least six feet between you and other people.

Wipe down equipment before and after you use it

and if you can, pack your own wipes

so you'll always have them on hand.

Otherwise, virtual classes seem to be here to stay.

Lifetime is streaming multiple free classes online

from yoga to strength training.

The YMCA is sharing on-demand videos

on their new YMCA 360 platform.

And many studios and gyms,

like Barry's and CorePower Yoga are hosting virtual classes.

And those are just some of your options.

So if you're feeling iffy,

know that there are ways to sweat, no face mask necessary.